Lil E. Tee
|Lil E. Tee|
|Sire||At the Threshold|
|Damsire||For The Moment|
|Breeder||Lawrence I. Littman|
|Owner||W. Cal Partee|
|Trainer||Lynn S. Whiting|
|Kentucky Derby (1992)|
|Lil E. Tee Handicap at Presque Isle Downs|
A bay colt, Lil E. Tee was bred in Pennsylvania by Lawrence I. Littman. Much has been said about what many sportswriters have described as Lil E. Tee's unimpressive pedigree. However, his grandsire was Norcliffe who was a son of the U.S. Hall of Fame Champion Buckpasser. Norcliffe earned Horse of the Year honours in Canada and was elected to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. At stud, Norcliffe was North America's leading juvenile sire by number of wins and second in earnings in 1981.
As a weanling, Lil E. Tee had nearly died but was saved by emergency stomach surgery. Considered to have little racing potential, he was sold for $2,000 as a yearling, and at age two his owner tried to sell him again but was rejected by an auction company who deemed the horse unsaleable. Lil E. Tee finally ended up in the hands of a Florida owner and was stabled at Calder Race Course in Miami, Florida.
Florida: two-year-old season
In Florida, Lil E. Tee won a 7 furlong maiden race. He was then sold again, this time to W. Cal Partee, who shipped him to trainer Lynn S. Whiting at Churchill Downs, where Lil E. Tee won a one mile allowance race. Of his four starts at age two, the horse won twice and finished second twice.
Arkansas: prep races
Racing in Arkansas, at age three Lil E. Tee won the Grade II Jim Beam Stakes and finished second by a neck to Pine Bluff in the Arkansas Derby, results that led to his appearance in the 1992 Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky Derby: the build-up
Lil E. Tee was ridden by jockey Pat Day, who hadn't won a Derby in ten previous attempts. On a track rated as fast, Lil E. Tee was all but forgotten by a record crowd that had come to see European Horse of the Year, Arazi. The press had talked about little except Arazi since his dominating win in the previous October's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The New York Times called Arazi "mythical and almost mystical" and TIME magazine said "Arazi is fast winning a reputation as the second coming of Secretariat." Joe Hirsch, a respected columnist with the New Jersey-based Daily Racing Form, wrote that Arazi was "such an extraordinary animal that he makes other great horses look like hacks" and Arazi's jockey, Patrick Valenzuela, who had won the 1989 Derby aboard Sunday Silence, assured reporters that "This race is over." Fifteen years after his Breeders' Cup win, a National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) 2006 article said that "Arazi turned in what many still consider to be the single-most spectacular performance in Breeders' Cup history."  Lil E. Tee, generally considered to have little chance to win the race, went off at 18:1 odds in the Derby.
Kentucky Derby: the race
Starting in post position #10, Lil E. Tee got off to a clean start in the 1992 Kentucky Derby but was in tenth place after half a mile. Arazi, who had started on the far outside in post position #17, made an explosive move. ABC television announcer Dave Johnson exclaimed "Arazi is flying" as the colt went seven wide, sweeping past horse after horse to move into third place, tightly bunched with the leaders. Lil E. Tee followed Arazi, moving into 5th place, and as they approached the home stretch, Arazi tired badly. Lil E. Tee made his own move, and the once unwanted colt soon caught the front running Casual Lies to win the most prestigious race in America and $724,800.
After the Derby, Lil E. Tee was entered in the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the American Triple Crown races. He finished 5th, five lengths behind winner Pine Bluff. Lil E. Tee then skipped the Belmont Stakes after being diagnosed with a lung infection. On June 9, the colt's racing season ended when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his front ankles. Recovered, in 1993, at age 4, Lil E. Tee's only significant win came in the Grade II Razorback Handicap. He also had a 2nd place finish in the Oaklawn Handicap. He was retired that year with a lifetime record of 7-4-1 from 13 starts and earnings of $1,437,506.
Lil E. Tee stood at stud at Old Frankfort Stud near Lexington, Kentucky, until he was euthanized on March 18, 2009. Farm owner Jim Plemmons said the horse fell ill the month prior following an operation to repair an obstructed bowel.
- John Eisenberg The Longest Shot: Lil E. Tee and the Kentucky Derby (1996) University Press of Kentucky ISBN 0-8131-1956-1
- Old Frankfort Stud
- http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/horse/news/story?id=4008653&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines Retrieved on 2009-03-23.